K ulturwissenschaftliches Institut für Europaforschung

    Nina Brodowski (Lüneburg, Mai 2004)
    Shifting boundaries: identity in young European film Lichter (Hans-Christian Schmid, Germany 2003)

    This films is about the phenomena of the border. The Oder/Neiße Border actually, the border between Germany and Poland, between Germany and Eastern Europe. Between the Western and Eastern part of Europe. But it deals with much more than that. It is about personal relationships, money, failure and - a very important issue - lack of communication. And it is about the very special German situation being confronted as EU-border-state at that time (2003). Focussing on German identity and feelings about the eastern enlargement of the European Union I mainly concentrate on three characters of at least 15 in the film: Ingo and Phil as very contrast characters, who have nevertheless much in common - and Sonja, as their counterpart.
    Ingo and Phil represent the two poles of German attitudes towards the European enlargement. Each of them refers to a common and dominant idea of legitimating identity and both of them will fail to fulfil these invocations - but still they will do it in different manners. In contrast to them Sonja will be deceived but is not failing in her concept of dialogue and "profit" of the European enlargement.

    … … …

    This film shows us probable "winners" and "losers" of the Unification - or lets put it more general: global development in economic processes. We have the Big global players who will and are definitely profiting in monetary manner. And we have the small man, breaking to pieces facing the global development because personal identification and valuation takes place with economic measures.
    Therefore Sonja is the counterpart of Phil and Ingo. She is not acting in order to get success. And she is not only acting in a situation which is a result of a national border. She acts within. So in her case border turns into a boundary-space. A space between - which divides different spheres but itself forms a dynamic space in which new meanings can be generated. She is the only one who is actually communicating with "the other". She is not only able to speak her own language but also acting in dialogue. Though we have to say that her character is neither intact nor integer. She represents a sort of naive curiosity or moral sensitivity. A curiosity towards the East, the NEW, the travelling, the getting-to-know. But the end of the episode gives us a hint, that this curiosity is just the beginning and very base condition for a common (hi)story. The transformation demands to give up some of our identity and pickup some parts of the other. It is not only a question of good will but as well of being ready to change, to transform yourself. In this way, the either stolen or borrowed camera might be a symbol. Of course the European Union will have a "price" everybody has to pay. But we have to put it "challenge" or "shifting". A challenge in which nobody will stay the same and in which everybody will change but in which we can discuss not only identity but our social reality again.
    So Sonja is deceived but she didn´t fail actually. And this is due to the fact, that her interest is not only based on economic existence. She is defining herself by the WAY she acts, not considering the result. This is why she could function as a good starting point in the unification process: The task is not to concentrate on our very specific and individual profits but rather to concept the present constitution of Europe as a "semiosphere" - in which new meanings, utopias and ideals can be brought up - and maybe generated. This seems to be the only way not to fail: and this is what LICHTER is all about: existential failure is not due to the fact we do not succeed: but rather due to the fact, we forget to criticize measurements our focus is about.

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